Tech

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekly MIT Technology Review newsletter that covers daily what’s happening in the world of technology.

— James Ball

What do psychedelics do to our brains? AI can help us learn

Big picture: Psychedelic drugs have long been touted as possible treatments for mental disorders such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. But very little is known about what these substances actually do to our brains. Understanding how they work can help unlock their potential.

New technique: Some scientists use AI to figure it out. A team at McGill University in Montreal used natural language processing to examine written “journey reports” from users who took a range of drugs. The team then combined this data with records of which neurotransmitter receptors in the brain each drug interacted with. Together, these steps allow the team to determine which receptors are associated with a particular drug experience.

What’s next: The work may shed light on how hallucinogens induce certain mental states, whether it be euphoria, anxiety, or a sense of oneness with the world. It could also help in the development of new drugs for mental disorders, which some firms are already trying to do. Read full story.

— Jessica Hamzelu

Required Reading

I scoured the internet to find the most hilarious/important/scary/exciting tech stories to date.

1 Russia has stepped up its bombing campaign against Ukrainian civilians
They just bombed a theater in Mariupol, where hundreds of people were hiding.AP)
+ According to US intelligence estimates, Russia has already lost more than 7,000 troops. (New York Times $)
+ Zelensky urged more US companies to leave Russia. (Quartz)
+ Biden has pledged another $800 million for Ukraine’s military needs, including drones and anti-aircraft systems. (Reuters $)
+ The tractor has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance. (Vice)
+ Ukrainian influencers are documenting what is happening. (edge)
+ What is the risk of nuclear war? It’s not zero. (New York Times $)

2 Facebook and YouTube removed the deepfake of the President of Ukraine
He was supposed to surrender to Russia, but this was quickly refuted. (CNN)
+Not before causing a fair amount of chaos yesterday, though. (Vice)
+ The biggest threat of deepfakes is not the deepfakes themselves. (TR)

3. There is a link between covid-19 deaths and internet access
Although it’s not entirely clear why. (Voice)
+ Covid cases are on the rise again globally. (Ars Technique)
+ Citizen science is back. (Wired $)

4 NASA released the first image from the James Webb telescope 🔭
And it’s amazing. (Ars Technique)
+ NASA Early Warning System for Asteroid Detection Passes First Test. (CNN)

5 parts of Kenya are slowly sinking into the water
And as a result, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced. (The keeper)
+ How rising water tables caused by climate change can devastate coastal communities. (TR)
+ Perspectives of solar panels. (Next network)

6. How Chinese professors got into a US spy scare
And, in some cases, their livelihoods have been torn to shreds as a result. (New Yorker $)
+ The US government is winding down the China Initiative. Now what? (TR)

7 Inside the group chats of the extortionist gang
Last year, the Conti gang extorted $180 million from companies. Now he wants to diversify into crypto projects. (Wired $)

8 Netflix thinks it can accuse you of paying for the passwords you share
Immediately after that, prices rose significantly. Good luck with that. (Gizmodo)

9 How is Instagram going to avoid posting stolen NFTs?
Sounds like a minor consideration, but it really isn’t, considering the NFT world is awash with them. (Next network)
+ Spotify plans to join the crypto craze. (FT $)

10 Elon Musk Argues With Violent Chechen Dictator On Twitter
Warning: Extremely high levels of toxic masculinity detected. (Vice)

“I think he is a war criminal.”

— President Joe Biden delivers his sharp reproach Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

We can still have good things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction during these strange times. (Any ideas? Email me or write to me.)

+ Happy St. Patrick’s Day to those who celebrate it! And before you decide if it’s worth celebrating, you can take this test.
+ These social networks Accounts sure to lift your spirits.
+ Surprisingly touching survey with living legend Denzel Washington.
+ HURRY UP to find out what the world’s largest “potato” really is not a potato.
+ Where can you find some of the best sunsets and sunrises in the world.
+ My inner child was in awe of this totally nonsensical, but downright hilarious, weapon.
+ Type bat in Rwanda was found unseen in 40 years.


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